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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Overconfidence and the Attainment of Status in Groups


Individuals who occupy positions of high status and authority tend to engage in overconfidence more than others. While prior work suggests that this excessive overconfidence is partly a product of their elevated status, the current research tested whether overconfidence can also lead to status: Are individuals with overly positive self-perceptions of ability more likely to attain status in the first place? Three studies of task-focused dyads and groups involving laboratory and field settings found support for this hypothesis. Further, the relation between overconfidence and status was consistently mediated by peer-perceived competence: overconfident individuals attained status because others inaccurately perceived them as more competent. An experimental manipulation established the causal priority of overconfidence, and a longitudinal study found the effects of overconfidence endured over time. This research contributes to our understanding of status distribution systems in groups and organizations, the consequences of overconfidence, and the psychology of status.

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